Title: The Emissary
Publication date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Kristal Shaff
For hundreds of years, dark clouds covered the skies of Adamah, and an ageless king ruled. Those who emerged with one of six extraordinary Shay powers were forced into the king’s army, an unmatched force with inhuman Strength, Speed, Accuracy, Perception, Empathy, and Healing. With the army behind him, the king—a man who wields all six abilities—was invincible and unquestioned in his rule. To most, serving the king was an honor. But for others, it was a fate worse than death.
When seventeen-year-old Nolan Trividar witnesses the transformation of his brother from kind to cruel after entering the king’s army, he vows never to follow the same path.
So when his own power—the Shay of Accuracy—comes upon him at the Tournament of Awakening, Nolan conceals his emergence instead of joining the king’s ranks. For years, he traitorously hides his power, pretending to be only a gifted scribe. But when Nolan comes face -to-face with a deserter, the man discovers his secret.
To evade detection and a death sentence, Nolan escapes with the deserter and flees into a night filled with dark creatures who steal both powers and souls. He joins a resistance, a village hidden deep in the forest, filled with others who secretly wield a Shay. But his peace is short-lived when they discover that the dark clouds, undead creatures, their own decreasing powers, and even the king, are all connected.
This book started off straight to the point which is something that I love. I didn't find any info dumping here. There was no long meandering exposition and we learn about the world as we go. I found the world Ms. Shaff created interesting, I would describe it as a fantasy with a dose of medieval times. I was easily able to immerse myself into the world once I got started.
It's fascinating the different types of "shays" or special abilities in the world that the author chose to use in her story. I believe accuracy and perception are two unique additions that I have not seen often in stories with special abilities. I especially enjoyed the tournament and the different trials the characters had to go through. It was a fantastic set up to the characters and the story. Each trial was intriguing and I realized I kept trying to guess which characters would get which shay. That was fun.
In my opinion, the characters were well thought out and developed. I was able to see each character in my mind with clarity. The best part for me? They all changed and developed in some form or another. That's right, each character grew and had their own little arc from the beginning to end and changed either for better or worse based on their experiences. I loved the strong character development so I want to applaud the author for thinking of such critical details. Although, I didn't always find some of the reasons or experiences good enough for the characters to change but those were minor. In the end, I'm just glad that they were complex characters.
Ok, the villain(s) were extremely well done. I very much wanted to pound or kill them myself. Especially once we hit the climax. I cringed for the characters and even had to put the book down just to breathe because I was so worked up. Let's just say that the author isn't afraid to hurt or kill off some of the characters. I won't spoil you, but it's good.
A minor issue I had with the book was the point of views. I know I only read an ARC but I thought it would be solely from Nolan's point of view since he is the protagonist but I found myself reading through a few other character's point of view. I don't have a problem with reading from another character's view point but I did find it a bit jarring jumping from one character to another after a long period with a specific character. I feel like a better rhythm would have made the transitions a little smoother for me. There was a long period near the beginning where I was wondering why I wasn't reading through the protagonist's point of view before it finally switched back over and it threw me off.
Overall, I was quite happy and satisfied with the end because I thought it was ending but it really wasn't. I kept checking to see how much I had left till the end because I didn't want to finish it. I ended up staying up past midnight because I wanted to know how everything would end. It summed up all the major plot lines and threads nicely. I do think that the conclusion was mostly satisfying but I did have a few questions about some of the minor loose ends. However, if there is a sequel I can see these threads being solved in it. The way the story ended had set it up so that there could be a sequel and I'm interested to seeing what new problems the characters will run into for the future.
I really enjoyed the story! I was a bit unsure at first since I thought it might be a political war game but it had a lot more action and adventure than I thought and I loved that. It started off good but got even better once I was two thirds in the book. If you like super powers/magic, character development, and reading on the edge of your seat then I highly recommend this book to you!
3.7 out of 5 rating for me!
(An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.)
Winner will be drawn October 25, 2014
· Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of The Emissary by Kristal Shaff (INT)
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